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Chapter 15 : Something More
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(A/N: *takes deep breath* Whew! Look, I've finally updated, after...how long? Three months? Sorry about that... Real life sucks and since I've moved to a new place, I have no computer. But, anyway, I hope you still like this story and keep reading until the very last chapter.) :)
WARNING: I've changed the format (from Novella to Novel) of this story, and the rating as well, since it's getting sensitive issues in later chapters. x-(
Disclaimer: I've borrowed the bathroom scene from the HBP book, where Draco was being comforted by Myrtle. Canon-Hermione was shattered and heartbroken when Ron hooked up with Lavender. In this story, she doesn't care.
Everything you don't recognize was created by me. :p
Credit: My thanks to Fallstar for beta-reading the chapter. I've added a few things, so if you find any grammar, errors, it's me to be blamed. Bella_Portia translated 'Renew Memory' in Latin for me (Novo Memoriam).
When he left, he knew he had made a decision. He'd told himself over and over again that he would never care for her. And yet he had to pretend he would, just for the sake of a silly game he had willingly agreed to. But he did it for peace of mind, didn't he? So he could freely leave when the right time came and the task he was given was completed. He could leave with no regrets about how it would be, being with Hermione Granger. She was his only chance to keep him out of despair, the one to ransom him from fear's grasp of failing.
There was a time when he dumped a girl for another girl because he didn't love her enough. Now here's another girl he was trying to stay away from no matter how, not because he didn't like her, but because she became the promising summation of his new happiness, and this was making him 'sick'. He couldn't handle his emotions.
He stared at his mirror reflection in the abandoned bathroom of the second floor. With the back of his hand, he wiped the wetness away from his eyes. He'd never thought that she would be the one who could make him cry like this. She became the ineradicable weakness in him.
A wailing sound snapped him from his self-absorption; something cold appeared beside him and caused him to jump and turn around. He recognised the nasty ghost haunting this bathroom, peering through her thick glasses at him. She tilted her head to the side, then to the other, as if to examine him, then hovered closer and furrowed her eyebrows together.
“Were you crying?” she asked in a voice that made the hair on his neck stand upright.
How insignificant this ghost may be, its presence, however, was comforting. He scowled at her nonetheless.
“Sod the hell off, Myrtle!” He looked disdainfully at her, and spit her name out as if it were a curse word.
For a split second it seemed like she was hurt because of Draco's rudeness, but when she noticed the shimmering tears in his eyes, she seemed to be rather gratified that someone else felt the way she did: miserable.
“You were crying,” she pointed out and hovered closer. The air around Draco got colder. “Why? Do you feel lonely like me? I have no one else, too,” she whined, brushing an invisible tear away.
He took a step backwards, averting her piercing gaze. “It's none of your ruddy business! Bugger off, you damned mope!”
Myrtle's lips quavered, and then she flew over Draco's head, until she vanished behind one of the cubicles. The only sound that remained were her moaning and whining, rebuking him that it was completely unnecessary being so rude to her: she had only been concerned. Rolling his eyes, he watched himself in his reflection again, eyes puffy red and eye bags sore. He was disgusted at himself.
“I won't tell anyone if you confide your problems to me, I promise!” came Myrtle's voice again from somewhere, beseeching. He didn't bother where she was. He would be leaving now anyway.
It would be hard, though, hard for the reason that he was aware he had no one out there he could share this particular problem with, and he desperately had to before it consumed him from within. He had to talk about her.
“I'm not heartbroken!” he replied, hesitantly. “Maybe I've just overreacted and flew off the handle.”
There came no response at first, and for a moment he felt silly talking to a soul of a dead person, talking to Moaning Myrtle. But then Myrtle's face appeared in the mirror, smiling sadly at him.
He jumped, grasping his heart in shock. “Blimey! Don't do that again!”
“Why” she asked, hovering away from the washbasin. Her eyes were wide, filled with curiosity.
“Because you bloody startled me!”
“I mean, why did you “overreact” and “Fly off the handle' as you've said,” she clarified with a patient smile.
Draco averted her eyes, shrugging. It was now or never. “Because I've kissed that girl and it felt...surprisingly good. I-I'm not accustomed to…this kind of delirium, this euphoria, this feeling.” He noticed on the mirror that his face lit up when he said this; it was almost a revelation to him about how he felt about Hermione Granger. “Not for someone with such a filthy, impure blood, such an ordinary-looking girl,” he added quickly with a scowl. “My vision tricked my heart, I suppose. Or maybe it was the other way around,” he chortled.
“The Mudblood doesn't know about your secret fancy for her, does she?” Myrtle said, venturing a guess. He blanched when the bespectacled ghost called Granger that name. For some reason it stung him inside even though he was guilty calling her like that too. “In my opinion, it was neither your vision nor your heart that has tricked you to fall for someone who doesn't meet your esthetics in the slightest. You've been just emotionally manipulated. Find the one who has played this prank on you.”
“You mean someone else is responsible for this whole turmoil I'm going through?” Draco asked, pursing his lips.
“That's the only reason I can see.” Myrtle titled her head, raising an eyebrow. “But tell me, do you care about blood that much?”
“I?” Draco bent his head to stare on his clenched fists, his knuckles turning white, “My high-bred kind has been raised to care, you know?” he smirked.
A long silence stretched between them, until Draco spoke again.
“It's not only that,” he added.
It once crossed his mind to ask Granger for help to pull him away from this dangerous path he had been forced to take just to save his family. He had wanted to tell Hermione about the Dark Lord's plan, that Death Eaters would be invading Hogwarts via the broken Vanishing Cabinet he, Draco, was currently repairing. He had wanted to warn her so that she could get in safety. But he discarded that thought when he had seen Granger with that fart-faced Weasley – being sweet and cozy together.
Hesitating before looking directly at Myrtle's evanescent form, and with watery eyes and an unfaltering look on his pale face, Draco asked, “Could you ever fall in love with a person who's not right for you? Who might bring you in mortal danger if you stayed with them? Someone you would, at last, wish to hell if you'd found out they'd executed a criminal act?”
Head tilted to the side, Myrtle asked. “And what would that be?”
“Like...assassinating the school's headmaster?”
Naomi didn't exactly hide her surprised face when Hayden strode towards her, as if she'd expected this reaction to come—sooner or later. He had his wand tightly in his hand, face wearing all the marks of anger. It was that Naomi already knew what he had just figured out, or at least a part of it.
As on instinct, she, still disguised as Cho's best friend, Marietta Edgecombe, placed herself in front of her mother. She drew her own wand and pointed it at Hayden. The other girls surrounding Cho and Naomi looked confused and then alarmed, eyes shifting between the duellers.
“What are you doing?” Naomi exclaimed, and before Hayden could lift his wand, she shouted, “Expelliarmus!”
With a blink of an eye, Hayden's wand flew away in a wide arc. “You anfractuous double-crosser!” he yelled, his finger pointed at the reddish-blonde Ravenclaw. “You're going to tell me the whole truth—NOW!”
“What's wrong with him?” one of the girls asked, exchanging baffled looks with her girl-friends.
“Marietta, do you know what he means?” Cho inquired.
“Could you all leave me alone with him, please?” she asked her friends, never breaking eye contact with Hayden. “I meet you later in the common room. Alright? Now go!”
After a short hesitation, the girls moved, tugging at Cho's sleeve. She was the only one who wanted to stay. “Shall I report him to the Head students or Professor Dumbledore for aiming his wand at you? I knew from the onset he was up to something,” Cho said.
“No, don't! I'll be in trouble since I was the one who used magic against him,” replied Naomi, pocketing her wand. She tucked her curly hair behind her ear and pushed Cho and the other girls towards the castle. “Off you go!”
Once the small group of girls was off hearing range, Naomi walked up to Hayden and pushed him a few times, hard. “Are. You. Insane? How could you even think of attacking my mother? You. Asshole!”
With one movement Hayden had clutched both of Naomi's wrists. “I was not even about to attack her! You owe me some explanations, Naomi Corner!”
“Shh! Have you completely lost your mind, Hayden?” Naomi hissed, looking around, fazed. “Don't use my real name here. Now, calm down!”
“I'm not going to calm down! Not unless I hear the whole truth from you,” Hayden insisted, tightening his grip. Naomi cried out in pain. “I'm sorry. I'll let go of you, but you'll stay and explain everything to me! Okay?”
“No! Not yet!” she spat, tears formed in her eyes. “You've already ruined everything the moment you've set foot in this era! You and your uncontrolled anger, your unpredictable actions, your tantrums! You can't do anything right! Now, don't you dare ruining my plans!”
“I haven't ruined anything! I can't even work on what I came back for because you keep me occupied with tasks designed to waste my precious time,” Hayden said, enraged, not letting go of her arms.
His grip tightened as he spoke.
Hayden fell silent for a moment; she was right, she hadn’t forced him to do anything. She made him do all this with a simple bat of her eyelashes and pleading him in her honey-sweet voice. He’d even go through hell and back for her if she’d ask him to. Shaking his head from the thought that he was her puppet on command, he added, trying to be angry with her, “There was something I could remember, Naomi, about the 'car accident' years ago. How come I could hear my mom's screaming like I've been around when she was hit by the 'car' when I was supposed to be in the manor?”
“How would I know that?” she cried.
“You're keeping something from me, aren't you?” His blood was pulsing in his veins, faster with every heartbeat; but for some reason, it was gratifying to release this pent-up anger. It grew cold all of a sudden as the meaning of her earlier words sank in. “What are those plans of yours? Tell me!”
“Why should I tell you? So that you can sabotage them? I've promised I'll help you,” Naomi said, now using her knees to kick him away.
“I'm running out of patience and time,” he bellowed, tilting with his free hand her chin. “I should trust you—follow your instructions, but how’m I gonna do that if I have 'altered' memories of what actually happened to my parents—to my mum? How much of what I remember is the truth and already changed? Have you put a Memory Charm on me, too? Have you altered my memories?”
“Let go of me!”
“Who killed my mother?”
“Let go of my arms!” Naomi seethed, trying to struggle her arms away. “You're hurting me!”
“WHO! KILLED! MY! MOTHER!”
Naomi started shaking, her body relaxed when tears cascaded down her cheeks. There was something else in the dark blue eyes, with which she was staring at Hayden: it was fear he saw in them. And in her sad and terrified face was a horrible truth that made the blood freeze in his veins.
And then it was real, as Naomi said: “It was you, Hayden. You killed your mother!”
Her arms slipped through his limp hands, taking a step away from him, trembling and rubbing her wrists. “Your father was still alive when you left. I got all the information about your parents in this era from him. I've promised him to support and help you, keep you from doing something ridiculous. Stop interfering in their relationship unless you want to end up being a foster kid again.”
Hayden's breath quickened. He absorbed the information all at once, too much to process. “I killed my mum?” he whispered.
Nodding and with tears in her eyes, Naomi said, “That was the accident. You were a little child, you played with your mother's wand...”
When she tried to reach for his hand, he backed away. “And my father … he was alive?”
“He had been lucky he didn’t get caught by the Death Eaters then when the two of you had fled. He had been completely defenseless when he had left his wand with you. He had kept an eye on you all the years, he guessed your intentions and got in contact with me. That's the reason why I didn't see you in the summer holidays after my graduation. I've spent my holidays with your dad and … and my mum.”
“With my dad and your mum?”
“See,” Naomi said, blinking the tears away. “Isn't it more pleasant and easier if the truth was concealed? I wish I had never found out about them, Hayden.”
He waited for her to go on; his heart was pounding rapidly, painfully inside his ribcage.
“They got married four years ago. That makes you and me step-siblings.”
He didn't notice when she re-drew her wand under her robe, but merely felt the tip poking at his temple. He didn't care anymore about his life, about anything, whether she was going to kill him or not. He didn't care. He was already dead inside.
I killed my mum, was the last thought that ran through his mind.
“Now close your eyes, Hayden, and trust me,” she said.
Hermione, tiredly absentminded as symptomatic of that dread disease, Love, or whatever it was, and trying to appear as casual as possible, ate her breakfast in the Great Hall. It was hard not to stare over to the Slytherin table, and look for him. But she couldn't help herself to peek over while taking sips from her Pumkin Juice. She hadn't seen him for two and a half days. Malfoy hadn't showed up since the day after their, well, practice kiss. He had skipped all meals over the weekend and had neither been in the Great Hall nor been seen in the corridors or dungeons since. Maybe he was avoiding Hermione, once he had realised that what he had agreed to with her was plain ridiculous; this way he would be slowly backing out until both of them forgot about it.
Such a cowardly way to tell me, she thought, closing her eyes to dive into deeper, forbidden thoughts.
She had almost considered asking his two cronies, who had never left their master's side since the first days of Hogwarts when she encountered them in the hallways last Saturday night when she came back from the library, about Draco’s secret life. Parkinson had been seen once in a while with her other girl friends during meal time, though she hadn't been in Malfoy's company since beginning of school year on the Hogwarts Express. Even the younger Greengrass hadn't been seen in Malfoy's company, because of which, Hermione for some reasons beyond her logic, she was grateful for.
If Harry was right, and Malfoy was planning something where his mates would be keeping watch for him, then Hermione had to keep an extra eye on him. This was a priority reason why she needed to be around him, the reason why she had walked the last two nights to the dungeons, looking for the Slytherin common room just to see him once. At least this was what she told herself.
She felt her head heating up, and was grateful that no one could read her mind.
“It's not that I'm missing his presence,” she groaned, huffing at herself.
This caused Ginny, who was sitting next to her, to face her. “Did you say something?”
“Oh...no.” She waved her hand dismissively, blushing crimson. “I was only wondering if Ron had stopped being a git, since he'd been like that for days,” she said nervously, poking her bacon with her fork. “You know, because of last Friday. Did he mention something particularly why he'd been so upset?”
Ginny took a sip from her glass and glanced over to her brother, who was applying butter on his toast, chuckling and deepened in their conversation about the last Quidditch game they’d won. He was sitting between Neville and Dean, Harry and Seamus occupied the seats opposite to them.
“Did you have a row...again?” Ginny asked. “Harry's worried about you too. Just so you know, he wants to talk to you later.” Then she leaned in to add in a whisper, “You don't have a boyfriend you've stashed away somewhere? Do you?”
This took Hermione off-guard that she almost swallowed up her juice. “What?!” Her head turned red from coughing, so she turned away, “There's no one. But what makes you think so?”
Ginny shrugged, throwing a fleeting look at her brother before she leaned to Hermione, smiling sheepishly. “People in love have this glow around them. And you have this ‘glow’ around you. You really should hide it better than that.”
“Don’t be absurd.” Hermione pulled a face.
At some point during the conversation around Hermione, Malfoy's name fell. Her head shot around to look at the source. Lavender was talking to Parvati, and another girl who sat opposite to them, so that Hermione could eavesdrop their chatter.
“I heard Malfoy's got a fever, the furry ferret Seeker, wooh,” Lavender gossiped, rolling her eyes. “Our majesty is sick because he got scared of Gryffindors. Luckily my Won-Won saved the game, my sweet cupcake.” She blew Ron a kiss and batted her eyelashes.
“Malfoy should keep playing, so that Gryffindor has it always easy to win like last Saturday,” Parvati mused. “All mouth, no trousers, a show-off without even having the qualities to justify it. He’s only lucky for being so handsome; take that away and he's just a lame geek.”
“Certainly, he only stayed in the common room during the game with some random girl,” Lavender added, giggling. “According to Myrtle, he made out with Chang in the bathroom last Friday afternoon. Merlin, I bet he's got a list of girls he has to kiss before graduation. The 'To-Snog-List'. He's done with all the chicks in Slytherin, and is now working up to Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.”
“I hope I'm on his list, too,” another girl beside them squealed, blushing afterwards.
“Malfoy's choosy,” Parvati said with a finger pointed in mid-air, crushing every girls' hope in an instant like a blood-swollen mosquito about to slip into her perfume jar. Draco Malfoy might not be aware of it, but he stood peer to the most sought-after guys in the tradition of legendary Cedric Diggory. To none of the girls present would he ever waste his attention on. “He picks pulchritudinous girls, and of course pure-bloods only. He'd never settle for less.”
“Pulkee- what?” Lavender sniggered.
“I'm not exactly dying to get smoochies from Malfoy,” Ginny stated, resting her chin on her angled arm. Hermione didn’t even realize that her friend had been listening too.
“Yeah, because you get enough smoochies from Harry, isn't it?” Ron remarked with crinkled nose at his sister, then his eyes met Hermione's. “Surely, Krum gave you some, too.”
Hermione threw a questioning look at Ginny and Harry, both averted her eyes.
“You get smoochies from your Lav-Lav too, remember?” Ginny teased, throwing a bean at him.
Ron scoffed, glaring. He turned to look at Harry again. “Have you noticed she didn't even deny it,” he croaked.
As the two boys continued in a shushed conversation, Hermione could only hear out Viktor's name again, and something that sounded like 'she was only fourteen', noticing Ron's eyebrows that were drawn together and his scarlet ears. She would jump down his throat afterwards if they were in private and confront him about his ridiculous problems with her.
“I've always thought Malfoy's banging everyone that wears a skirt,” Lavender remarked, which caught Hermione's attentions again.
“Draco's not a manwhore, you got that?”
When everyone turned around to Hermione, she realised that it was her who had said this aloud.
“Wooh, 'Draco'-poo?” Lavender and Parvati said in chorus. Ron, Harry and the other guys were gazing once again. “Hermione's defending her master, Draco Comptempt-For-The-Weak Malfoy,” Lavender sneered, nudging her neighbour's arm. The other girls snickered in amusement. “I bet she's enjoying his dirty double entendres about her mouse-hair, curvy-weight size, and…blood status. Do we have a glutton for punishment, Hermione?”
Hermione glanced over to Ron, who seemingly preferred to keep his nose out this time. Lavender was his sodding girlfriend now after all, was he taking side with this cow now? Ron merely took another bite of his cheese bread, his eyes curiously shifting from Hermione to Lavender, surrendering.
“Are we jealous, Lavender? At least he's noticing me, no matter how he does it, whereas he'd not even remember your name even if he'd stuck a bunch of lavenders up his buttocks,” Hermione retorted, feeling stupid the moment she'd said this.
The girls looked bemused when the meaning of her words reached them, coming from the virtuous Hermione Granger. How shocking! She threw her napkin on the table and ran off, when she suddenly bumped into something hard, but soft all the same.
She didn't need to lift her head to know who it was. She smelt his scent, that sufficed; she felt his warm breath near her ear; she heard his voice whispering, “Where are you going, Granger? The party has just begun.”
She pushed him away gently just to have a better look at him, but he held her on her elbows. Looking directly into her eyes, he said with a small smile, “Just ignore them, alright? They're nothing but frustrated little hags desperate to be on my 'List.'” He winked, leaning his forehead briefly against hers.
He was flirting with her in front of everyone.
He went to her seat, got her bag of books and shouldered it, without deigning a look at anyone at the table. Then he walked back to Hermione and led her towards the entrance door with a sly smile on his lips.
This would be just the beginning of it then, and Malfoy already made everyone within their radius speechless. It was just that simple performance in front of everybody, and she didn't even care if Hayden, for whom this show was for, was around to see them together or not. Somehow she thought that Draco didn't care right this moment either.
There were no holding hands when they walked together, nor arms wrapped possessively around each other's waists, nor exaggerated sweet names, nor mushy gifts he presented to her like red flowers, nor a huge stuffed heart, not even a romantic declaration of love. Everything that lovers do for the sake of public display of affection was set aside. All of that wasn't necessary to make the audience notice the change between them.
They had simply looked at one another, intently, putting everything around them into oblivion.
That was all it needed right then and there: simple, subtle flirting.
“Have you seen their faces?” Hermione asked once they stood in front of her next class: Arithmancy. She was laughing in amusement. “That featherbrained Lavender deserved it. You can hand me my bag back now, thank you.”
Draco disregarded her. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped it over the small beads of sweat on his forehead.
“You look unhealthy; I heard you have a fever,” she added, sounding concerned. “Give me my bag. I can carry it myself.”
“Do you always listen to what those country lassies gossip?” he snapped, “I'm fine, all right?” Exhaling nosily, he looked down at her from the side, feeling sorry for his harshness. “When is your next free period?”
She hesitated a moment. “Between 2 to 3 PM after Ancient Runes. But I’ll need to get some stuff done for Professor Burbage. She has asked me to help her prepare for her next lesson in Muggle Studies and provide simple Muggle items to present to the students. Look, surely we don't have to exaggerate all this if you feel uncomfortable with me. I mean, you know, like hanging around with me all the time,” Hermione suggested all in one breath. Why she was being nervous around Malfoy was beyond her. “I haven't informed my friends about this absurd idea of ours. I'd rather not want them to think I've hidden that I was going out with you.”
“I'll pick you up at 2 PM in front of the Muggle Studies classroom.” He chose to disregard her again, and felt a heavy crushing in his chest when the thought crossed his mind that maybe she didn't feel comfortable around him. Certainly, it could be that; just because they were pretending to be getting along together now didn't automatically mean all the hatred they'd shared before was forgotten or forgiven. Maybe she was trying to back out; being the gentle soul that she was, she did it with discretion. Was she already 'breaking up' with him, her non-boyfriend?
They heard nearing footsteps from a distance, and two voices arguing. Together, they glanced to the same direction and realised that Hayden and a Ravenclaw girl were walking side by side, passing the spot Draco and Hermione were standing. Draco frowned by the sight of Hayden.
He was taken off-guard when he realised Hermione closed the small gap between them, brushing briefly the back of his hand, with her other, she grabbed her bag from his shoulder. “Thank you for carrying it for me, Draco. I'll meet you later at 2,” she said softly with crimson cheeks, and then flashed him an alluring smile. He had never seen her smile like that, or smile at him like that. In the next moment she disappeared behind the classroom door, leaving him rooted on his spot.
“My head's still buzzing like an air hammer hit on it,” Hayden moaned, rubbing the back of his head. “Have I gotten that drunk over the weekend that I can't remember a thing?
“Yeah, you did,” Naomi said, not looking at him.
“That surprises me because I don't usually drink.”
“I thought so too.” She shrugged and sighed dramatically. “Cheer up, Hayden, I won't tell anyone.”
“You know, if I found out who had hurt you I'm going to kick his bum!” He took an arm of Naomi and examined one of her bruised wrists. “Why can't you tell me who had done that to you?”
She snatched her arm back, snapping, “I told you I can't remember how it actually happened.”
They stopped in their tracks when they noticed in a short distance Hermione and Draco standing closely together, Hermione taking her bag from his shoulder and thanking him for carrying it. Then she entered the classroom and left Draco outside the door.
When they passed by Draco Malfoy without greeting him, and after they had turned the next corner, Naomi spoke again, crushing the bright and contented grin on Hayden's face, “That wasn't real.”
“What do you mean 'that wasn't real'? My plan's finally working.”
“They are only pretending they are getting along, but they don't,” Naomi stated as nonchalantly as she could. “Trust me, it's just a show. But their plan will backfire on them, we'll make sure of that.”
(A/N: Well, Dr/C??? *yikes* But it's necessary for the background story in Hayden's time in the future.)
PS: I hope, in this chapter, I've established Hermione's as well as Draco's motives as to why they have to go through this burden of dating each other. Hermione wants to spy on Draco; and Draco needs to satiate his desire for her to keep sane. 'The Show', however, is for trapping Hayden and to find out about the mystery that surrounds him.
PPS: Oh, I'd love it if you point out my grammar. I'll correct them at once. :) Thanks.
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